CZAAWE Resource Article

Effects of environmental enrichment on behavioral responses to novelty, learning, and memory, and the circadian rhythm in cortisol in growing pigs
Publication Type 
Journal Article
Year of publication 
2000
Publication/Journal 
Physiology & Behavior
ISBN 
0031-9384
Abstract 
Previously we showed that pigs reared in an enriched environment had higher baseline salivary cortisol concentrations during the light period than pigs reared under barren conditions. In the present experiment, it was investigated whether these higher baseline salivary cortisol concentrations were a real difference in cortisol concentration or merely represented a phase difference in circadian rhythm. The effects of different cortisol concentrations on the behavioral responses to novelty and learning and long-term memory in a maze test were also studied in enriched and barren housed pigs. At 9 weeks of age enriched and barren housed pigs did not differ in baseline salivary cortisol concentrations nor in circadian rhythm, but at 22 weeks of age barren housed pigs had a blunted circadian rhythm in salivary cortisol as compared to enriched housed pigs. The differences in baseline salivary cortisol concentrations between enriched- and barren-housed pigs are age-dependent, and become visible after 15 weeks of age. Enriched- and barren-housed piglets did not differ in time spent on exploration in the novel environment test. Barren-housed pigs had an impaired long-term memory in the maze test compared to enriched-housed pigs; however, no differences in learning abilities between enriched- and barren-housed pigs were found. Because blunted circadian cortisol rhythms are often recorded during states of chronic stress in pigs and rats or during depression in humans, it is suggested that the blunted circadian rhythm in cortisol in barren-housed pigs similarily may reflect decreased welfare.